Suffolk County Council delays care homes sale decision
Suffolk's 16 county council care homes for older people will remain in the public sector for at least a year.
The Conservative-run local authority wants to save £125m over the next four years and is looking at options to sell its homes.
The council said its consultation showed 53% of more than 1,000 respondents favoured selling the homes to independent care home providers.
However, 31% said they did not agree with any of the proposed options.
Councillor Colin Noble, who has responsibility for adult services, said: "The key thing is that we're spending £3-4m more by providing our own homes rather than [paying for places] in the private sector."
The 16 care homes provide 526 places while the county council buys 2,300 places in private sector homes.
The three-month consultation put forward three options for Suffolk County Council:
- Close its homes and buy alternative care places in the private sector
- Sell the homes as 'going concerns' to the private sector so that residents would not have to move
- Shut some homes and sell the remaining homes to the private sector
A further 10% of responders supported the final option, while 6% thought the 16 homes should be closed.
Councillor Inga Lockington, Liberal Democrat spokesperson, said: "All we know is that they're saying they haven't made their mind up precisely yet.
"They started off saying they didn't want to run any of the homes at all - they preferred to close six and sell-off 10.
"[The consultation] was clearly not an open thing to go into when they had already decided that they are not going to run homes in the future."
Mr Noble said: "In May, we will announce which of the options we intend to move forward on and in probably about a year's time you should start to see things happening on the ground."
The results of the public consultation will go before Suffolk County Council's cabinet for the first time at a meeting on Tuesday, 29 March, 2011.